Last night I dropped into the Great American Sandwich Company to sample their fare. One sandwich does not a review make, but I was certainly happy with with my pork rib sandwich (170 baht) and will be back to sample a few more of the 10 hoagie-style John Montagu's on their menu.
Some preliminary observations before I get down to the meat of the matter. It's located on Soi Buakhao, a few "blocks" north of LK Metro and across the street from Jolly's. GASCO is clean, cheerful, comfortable and well-lit, all of which are positive factors in my eyes.
It's a small restaurant with three booths for four on one side and three tables for three on the other in the enclosed area, plus two tables outside. The staff was friendly, efficient and full of smiles. The pretty girl who served me read back my order to me, always a good idea even when language comprehension is a potential issue. The gentleman who I took to be the farang manager welcomed me, asked if everything was OK after my food arrived and thanked me for coming as I departed. Those are all nice touches which encourage customers to return and are unfortunately absent from many restaurants in Pattaya.
As the name would indicate, it's U.S. themed with movie posters and iconic photos decorating the walls. There's a giant wall-mounted TV that seemed to be showing music videos at a blissfully subtle volume.
One of my all-time favorite photos was on prominent display. I ate there at 8 p.m. and all the booths and tables were taken at one point, although it was mostly single diners, about eight people in total. That's eight more than several larger and better-known restaurants in the LK Metro area had at that hour.
The menu was also wall-mounted.
The menu was limited to ten sandwiches of the hoagie, sub, grinder, hero variety. They all trace back to the sandwiches carried by Italian immigrants to factory jobs on the U.S east coast in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Meat and vegetables were piled into a small loaves of Italian bread, with numerous local variations (and names) developing over the years.
While the origin of the word "hoagie" is obscure, several food historians believe they were originally called Hoggies after Philadelphia's Hog Island, which at one point boasted the world's largest shipyard and employed thousands of newly-arrived Italians. The creek that separated Hog Island from the mainland was filled in during the 1930's and the former Hog Island is now the site of Philadelphia International Airport.
The sandwiches feature pork, chicken or beef as the main act. It's a fairly standard line-up with chicken parm, meatball. sausage, etc. as well as the love-it-or-hate-it Philly cheese steak. Three sides are are on offer: French fries; potato salad and coleslaw. You can have water. soft drinks or draft Chang along with your sandwich.
Last night I went with the pork rib sandwich and a small side of coleslaw and wasn't disappointed.
It consisted of 10 inches of pork ribs that had been smoked and slow-cooked, then de-boned, sauced and grilled. The ribs rested on a bed of lettuce and sliced onion in a fresh hoagie roll.
The ribs tasted good and hadn't been drowned in sauce, which is exactly the way I like smoked ribs, especially in a sandwich.
I was less impressed with the coleslaw. It was standard school-cafeteria coleslaw, but a bit too heavily dressed and watery for my* taste. Next time I'll try the potato salad.
The meal set me back 250 baht (sandwich 170, coleslaw 45, Coke Zero 35). I am well aware there are places in Pattaya where you can get much bigger meals for 250 baht, but that's irrelevant to me. If I have a hankering for a pork rib or meatball sandwich, it doesn't matter that pad thai can be had for 100 baht or a daily special Hunter's Chicken for 150 baht. GASCO offers reasonably priced American-style sandwiches and that's what I want to eat some nights. And for the budget conscious, there are sandwiches on the menu for as little as 75 baht.
We have to be realistic. GASCO is a small sandwich place that doesn't purport to be anything else. It's not the restaurant to visit if you want to stuff yourself on anything but sandwiches. I'd much rather choose from 10 well-prepared and tasty sandwiches than 20 mediocre ones. The only problem I can see with such a limited menu is that there's not much which would appeal to Thai females and that's sometimes a factor in choosing a place to eat.
Was it the best rib sandwich I've ever had? No, it wasn't, but in Pattaya, we're half-way around the globe from the US of A. Will I be eating there three or four times a week? No, I won't, although I could be grabbing sandwiches for take-away on a regular basis. I see GASCO more of a place for a snack than a full meal.
I hope in time GASCO will expand its menu to include a Reuben sandwich and my comfort food favorite, grilled cheese. But the Reuben is as much an American specialty sandwich as the Philly cheese steak and not easy or cheap to make abroad. Corned beef, rye bread, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese are expensive ingredients in Thailand and a Reuben without a kosher-style dill pickle isn't really a Reuben. Like the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead, when a Reuben is good, it's very, very good, but when it is bad, it is horrid. Many small restaurants in Pattaya have come a cropper by trying to overreach themselves.
Bottom line: Try it!
Edited by Evil Penevil, 31 December 2017 - 02:16 PM.